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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—the draft, Aikman on RG3

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—the draft, Aikman on RG3

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 30, 25 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

A look at the Redskins week that was

Looking back at some of our most popular Redskins posts of the week:

Troy Aikman could see RG3 in Cowboys uniform, with one caveatThis is one of those silly season stories, where the former Dallas quarterback says that he could envision either Robert Griffin III or Johnny Manziel in a Cowboys uniform in 2016. You can’t dismiss it out of hand because of the source. Aikman is wired in to the organization and it’s likely that he has heard of some interest in Griffin on the part of the Cowboys. But that is a long way from a contract offer and Griffin agreeing to go to a situation where he would have to go and wait for the starter to get injured before getting a chance to play. Tony Romo isn’t going to get benched.

Which Redskin might be a surprise cap casualty in 2016?—The Redskins will have some cap room to work with and they will have more when they release Griffin. But there are some high-priced vets who might need to be released to create some more room to be able to sign Kirk Cousins, perhaps extend Jordan Reed, and add some needed players in free agency. Check out the post to see who Tandler and Tarik think could go.

How many draft picks do the Redskins have?—We’re still about three months away from the draft but interest is high which is why this draft basics post got so many page views. There are probably two or three dozen players that Scot McCloughan could take with their first pick, which is No. 21 overall. It seems like every fan has his or her favorite. We’ll talk about the draft plenty in the months leading up to it and, of course, during and after.

Giving odds on the return or departure of every Skins' free agent—Free agency comes well before the draft and the Redskins have 16 players with expiring contracts. Some will be back, many won’t. We looked at every Redskins pending free agent and the odds of him being back in burgundy and gold for the 2016 season.

Ertz contract gives Redskins guidance on new deal for Reed—Jordan Reed isn’t going to be a free agent this year but the Redskins may look to lock up their standout tight end before he is. They got some help in figuring out what a deal with Reed should look like when the Eagles locked up Zach Ertz, their top tight end, through 2021 a year before his rookie contract expired. They have comparable career numbers up to this point but Reed is considered to be more of an impact player and he likely will make more than Ertz, who got a five-year deal worth $42.5 million with $20 million guaranteed.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 20 days ago. It will be about 225 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 25; NFL free agency starts 39; 2016 NFL draft 89

In case you missed it

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.